Tag Archives: toddler sleep training

10 Must-Know Baby and Toddler Nap Facts. (#7 May Surprise You!)

Baby Toddler Naps

We’ve written quite a bit about baby and toddler naps here on the blog, so if you’ve been following our site for awhile, you’ve had the chance to read a lot of baby and toddler nap tips and tidbits. But, some of you are new moms or new to The Baby Sleep Site® and we strive to educate all of our parents on the importance of good sleep and how to achieve it!

Today, we’re presenting you with 10 must-know facts about your baby’s or toddler’s naps. Think of it as your nap “cheat sheet”. ;)

10 Things You Need To Know About Baby and Toddler Naps

  1. The first nap of the day is the most important. This isn’t to say that other naps aren’t also important. But the first nap of the day tends to be the most restorative, setting the tone for the day, and it’s generally the one that produces the best sleep for babies and young toddlers.
  2. Most babies don’t transition to one nap at 12 months; most transition to one nap between 15-18 months. There seems to be a prevailing opinion out there that at the one year mark, babies should suddenly transition from two naps to one. And some will, with no problem. But we’re here to tell you that making the 2-to-1 nap transition at 12 months isn’t the norm for most babies. In fact, most babies aren’t ready to move to one nap a day until 15-18 months.
  3. Most 6 month old babies aren’t ready for just 2 naps per day; most still need 3 (or even 4). Just as there’s a misconception that all 12 month old babies are ready to transition to one nap per day, there’s also a misconception that 6 month old babies are ready to transition to just 2 naps each day. We think this misconception is at least party due to a recommendation that Weissbluth makes in his book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. In the book, Weissbluth states that only 16% of babies need a third nap after 5 months. Keep in mind this statistic came from a study of a limited number of children.

    We are not discounting Weissbluth’s studies, but we do take it with a grain of salt, since all babies vary in their ability (particularly mood-wise) to stay awake for long periods of time. In our extensive work with families, we’ve found that far more than 16% of babies appear to need 3 naps at 6, 7, even 8 months of age. Therefore, we usually tell parents not to rush into a 2 nap schedule with their 6 month old babies. Doing that increases the chances that their 6 month olds will become overtired, which will in turn affect their night sleep. We’ve found it’s better to stick to a 3 nap schedule (or even a 4 nap schedule) and then gradually transition to a 2 nap schedule around 8 months.

  4. Your child’s nap needs will change greatly between birth and 18 months. Greatly. This just makes sense if you think about it — newborns nap pretty much constantly during the day, while an 18 month old needs just 1 nap. That’s a lot of change during a relatively short period of time!

    So, how many naps does your baby or toddler need in the first 18 months of life? You can read this article for detailed information, but here’s the short version:

    *1-3 MONTHS – 4-5 naps per day, depending on how long his naps are and how long he can stay up between naps.

    *3-4 MONTHS – 4 naps.

    *5-8 MONTHS – probably 3 naps (though some will need 4 until after 7 months). A few babies will only have 2 naps at a very young age, but those naps are usually long.

    *9-15 MONTHS – 2 naps. Some babies will transition to 1 nap at 12 months, but that’s not common.

    *15-18 MONTHS – 1-2 naps. The transition from 2 naps to 1 usually happens in this window of time.

    *18 MONTHS-4 YEARS – 1 nap. The age to transition away from all napping varies a lot, from 2 to 5+ years old, but the average age is between 3 and 4 years old.

  5. Nicole’s Note:
    “But, of course, my son was very NON-textbook. He had 4 naps until 7 months old, because he simply could not stay awake longer than 1 hour 15 to 30 minutes without turning into Senor Cranky Pants! It was simply NOT fun to even try. So, I rolled with it and he stayed home all day pretty much until he seemed to change overnight, taking 3 naps at 7 1/2 months old. He then dropped to two naps a short month later at 8 1/2 months. It happened so fast! He also transitioned to one nap early and away from napping early. I would never have guessed that based on our first 7 months. So, if your baby is struggling with staying awake for long periods, he’s not alone and it could change fast for you, too! :)”

  6. If your baby or toddler sleeps well at night, that doesn’t necessarily mean she’ll nap well during the day. Remember, nap sleep is different than night sleep. Naps happen during daylight hours, when the sun’s up and when it tends to be noisy and busy. External factors like that can make it hard for a baby or toddler to nap well. And many families struggle with keeping a consistent daily nap routine in place — because life tends to get in the way! That, too, can make it hard for a baby or toddler to nap consistently. Contrast that with nights — it’s dark, it’s (usually) quiet, and everyone is (usually) at home. That at least partly explains why many babies and toddlers who sleep just fine at night struggle with their naps.
  7. On-the-go, “moving” naps aren’t as restorative as naps that happen at home, in bed. This might come as a bit of a surprise, but it’s true — naps that happen “on the go” (in a moving car, for example, or in a moving stroller or shopping cart) aren’t as restorative as naps that happen on a non-moving surface (like a bed). They aren’t as long, for one thing, and during a “moving” nap, your baby’s or toddler’s sleep won’t be as deep. The occasional on-the-go nap isn’t a big deal, of course; sometimes, you gotta do what you gotta do. But if the majority of your baby’s or toddler’s naps are happening in the car, or in a stroller, you may need to rethink your daytime routines and schedule.
  8. It’s possible for your baby or toddler to nap too much. Yes, we realize that this particular “problem” doesn’t plague most of you. ;) But it’s true; some babies and toddlers nap too much, and it negatively affects their nighttime sleep. How much nap time sleep is too much? You can check out this article for details, but here’s a fast breakdown:

    *INFANT STAGE (birth – 4 months) — newborns will sleep 14-18 total hours during the day. To maximize nighttime sleep, limit naps to two hours, and try to keep your baby awake for 30 minutes between naps. (Need help with newborn sleep? Take a look at our newborn e-Book.)

    *BABY STAGE (4-12 months) – babies need 13-15 total hours of sleep during the day. 2-4 of these hours should be naps (depending on how much sleep your baby is getting at night.)

    *TODDLER STAGE (12 months – 3 or 4 years) – 1-3 hours of total naptime is considered normal and healthy.

  9. Educate yourself on when common nap transitions occur, and how to manage them. Nap transitions are likely to occur at the following times:

    *3-4 MONTHS – baby transitions from 5 naps to 4.
    *5-6 MONTHS – baby transitions from 4 naps to 3.
    *8-9 MONTHS – baby transitions from 3 naps to 2.
    *15-18 MONTHS – toddler transitions from 2 naps to 1.

    As for how to handle these nap transitions? We have loads of resources on that very topic in our Members Area – keep reading for details!

  10. If a nap just isn’t happening, know when to give up and try again later. We end up dispensing this advice quite often to our consultation clients who we are working on nap training: don’t waste too much time trying to make a nap happen. No sense in spending 3 hours trying to force an afternoon nap to happen — at that point, you’re probably closer to bedtime than you are to naptime!
  11. When your toddler is finally done taking naps, consider replacing nap time with “rest time”. It’s always a little sad when your toddler finally ages out of his naps. Gone are those one or two hours of peace, when mom or dad could get some work done, catch up on chores, or take a nap themselves! However, the end of nap time doesn’t have to mean the end of your afternoon peace and quiet. Simply replace nap time with rest time.

BONUS NAP TIP: We like you so much, we’re squeezing in a bonus tip for you! This one deals with short naps, an all-too-common problems for the parents in our Baby Sleep Site® community. The fact is, short naps are normal for newborns and young babies, but by about 6 months of age, most babies are able to take longer naps. Want all the details on why short naps happen, and how to fix the problem? Check out this article on short baby naps.

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Special Members-Only Nap Resources

bss_ebook_masteringnaps_left Mastering Naps & Schedules — For starters, all Baby Sleep Site® members receive unlimited access to all our e-Books. That’s right – for the price of your membership, you can read all our e-Books at no additional cost! That includes Mastering Naps & Schedules. With over 45 sample schedules (all available for you to view in the Members Area), Mastering Naps & Schedules is THE e-Book for tired parents of non-napping kiddos! We tackle all your top napping issues, including how to get your baby or toddler to take longer naps, how to get your child’s naps to be more consistent and predictable, how to manage nap transitions, how to encourage good napping while traveling – and more! Become a member today, and access the e-Book instantly – no download necessary!
 
Tele-seminarNap Tele-Seminars — Another great members-only resource? Our tele-seminars. Hosted by Nicole herself, these 30 – 45-minute tele-seminars offer you insider-information and our trademark sleep coaching methods and techniques. We have several awesome nap-focused tele-seminars, including one on managing nap transitions, and one on lengthening short naps! Listening to these seminars is like getting a coaching session from Nicole! She’ll walk you through the basics of dealing with common nap problems and give you tried-and-true strategies you can implement at home.

Members-Only Nap Articles — And now, we’ve recently added a special members-only article on the hot topic of nap transitions: 5 Practical, Hands-On Tips For Managing Common Nap Transitions. Learn our 5 top secrets for how to gently and painlessly navigate nap transitions, and help them happen in a way that preserves your child’s sleep while also preserving your own sanity! ;-)

For more details about all our member benefits (including weekly chats with a trained sleep consultant and 20% off ALL sleep consulting packages), visit our membership page, and consider becoming a member today!
 
 
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Don’t feel up to working on your baby or toddler’s nap challenges on your own? While our Members Area is great for DIY moms who prefer to tackle sleep challenges on their own, we know that other moms much prefer to go straight to one-on-one help. Well, good news – we offer that, and you can start getting the personal help you need TODAY!

 
Browse our list of consultation package options here.
 

Once you make your choice and purchase, you will immediately receive an e-mail with your Helpdesk login information. You’ll be able to login and start your Family Sleep History form right away – it’s that simple!

Are you struggling with any of these 10 points? Have nap questions to ask, or nap tips to share? We want to hear from you!

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Is Sleep Training Selfish? Well, Yes…And No

 
Is Sleep Training Selfish?

Okay, parents, let’s just get it right out in the open. It’s the elephant in the room for many of our consultation clients, but we think it’s high time we addressed it here on the blog, and talked about it openly.

We’re talking about sleep training guilt.

Have you felt this? Does the idea of sleep training in order to achieve hours of glorious, uninterrupted night sleep and long, peaceful naps sound wonderful to you? But maybe it’s also tainted by a weird, lingering feeling of guilt, that somehow even wanting to sleep train (much less actually doing it) is somehow selfish?

If so – you’re not alone. MANY of the families with whom we’ve worked have said this very thing as they’ve started their consultations – “I’m so excited to be doing this finally, but I also feel super guilty. I feel selfish for wanting to fix my child’s sleep!”

Well, readers, this is the question we’re answering in today’s post: Is sleep training selfish? We say yes AND no – read on to find out why!

Sleep Training “Selfishness”: Why The Guilt In The First Place?

Why does sleep training feel selfish in the first place? Well, most of us end up sleep training out of our own crippling exhaustion. While some parents do sleep train solely based on their baby’s needs, for most of us, it’s a combination of “my baby isn’t getting enough sleep, and NEITHER AM I!!” Because, if we’re honest with ourselves, we need sleep, too. We need adequate sleep in order to have healthy relationships with our partners, to enjoy our daily lives and activities, and to be the best parents we can be.

I also think that sleep training guilt over “being selfish” has a lot to do with the pervasive myth of The Super-Mom. What is the super-mom? Well, super-moms…

  • breastfeed with ease (no latching problems, nipple soreness, or supply issues, thankyouverymuch) and do it exclusively for years.
  • …make ALL baby and toddler food from scratch, using only organic, locally-grown ingredients.
  • …can churn out ALL the crafts on Pinterest – and theirs always look just like the pictures. (Meanwhile, mine end up looking a whole lot more like this…anyone else??)
  • …retain their girlish figures indefinitely (because why let a little thing like multiple pregnancies be an excuse for saggy tummies and less-than-lovely breasts?)
  • …have 18 month olds who are potty-trained AND reading independently.
  • …are unfazed by their toddlers’ monster-sized tantrums and NEVER resort to raising their voices or losing their cool.
  • …can happily subsist on just a few hours of sleep per night, and still be patient moms and loving spouses all day long.

Now, not all of these are unachievable dreams — some of these bullet points may describe you, actually! (Although if the bit about the girlish figure fits you, I have to ask — what’s your secret???! ;) And that one about never raising your voice — could someone please tell me how to manage that on a daily basis??) But the point is that there is NO mom out there who fully fits this profile – because it’s not realistic. A mom who could pull all that off would be more robot than human. Especially that last one — while a small percentage of you may be able to function long-term on very little sleep, I’ll be you’re doing just that – functioning. Not living life to the fullest, not enjoying your family and your life – just functioning. And I’ll bet that most of you (me included) can’t even function on just a few hours of sleep for very long.

You know, I used to wish SO HARD that I was the kind of mom who could be up with the baby all night long and then be sweet and calm and happy the next day — but I’m not. Not by a long shot, actually! I need a minimum of 6 hours at night to function well the next day, and if I have a few nights in a row of getting less than 8 hours of sleep, I need to make up for it with one or two nights of getting 9 or 9.5 hours. I used to feel bad about this – can you believe that? I used to feel guilty for needing to get the recommended amount of sleep each night. But it’s true – and I’ll bet most of you can relate. Because that’s not what super-mom is supposed to do; she’s not supposed to let a little thing like constant sleep deprivation slow her down!

Is Sleep Training Selfish? For Some Of Us…Technically Yes!

You know, the word “selfish” is a pretty loaded one – it has a ton of negative connotations. Lots of dictionary definitions define selfish as being supremely concerned with oneself, and not caring about the needs or interests of others. In short – selfishness is bad, by standard definitions!

But do you know what selfishness technically means? Break the word down, and it simply means ‘concern for one’s self.’ By this definition, then, sleep training can be selfish, if you do it out of a concern that you might literally DIE if you don’t start getting enough sleep! Or if you do it for fear that your marriage might fall apart if you and your spouse don’t start getting enough sleep, and you don’t want your partner to leave you. Or if you do it because you feel yourself sinking into a deep depression that you know is brought on by sleep deprivation.

Technically speaking, those are all “selfish” acts – they’re done out of concern for yourself.

But…

Is Sleep Training Selfish? Ultimately, No.

I think we’d all agree that our reasons for sleep training involve more than just our own wellbeing. Most of us sleep train for our spouses and partners, too – we recognize the toll that sleep deprivation is taking on them. And, of course, we do it for our children, because we know that as long as they are waking too often at night, or taking too-short naps, they are not getting the rest they need for healthy development. And many of us know firsthand that our overly-tired children are simply too tired and cranky to enjoy each day – and that’s something that no parent wants for their child!

So, even if some of your motives for sleep training are technically “selfish”, in that they are focused on your needs, it’s likely you have other reasons for sleep training, too.

And what about those “selfish” motives? Should you feel bad about them? In a word – NO. Taking care of yourself, while it may not be part of the “super-mom” myth, is in reality a very, very healthy practice. If you are so busy taking care of everyone else in your family that you completely ignore your own needs, it won’t be long before you are too burnt out to be much use to anyone. Better to pay attention to yourself AND to your children and your partner – better to focus on meeting your own sleep needs AND on making sure that the other members of your family are rested.

You Don’t Have To Feel Selfish For Reclaiming Your Sleep — Let Us Help!

If you feel desperate to solve your baby or toddler’s sleep problems, and to reclaim your own sleep, don’t let yourself be bogged down by guilt! Sleep training may be one of the best decisions you ever make for yourself and for your family – so why not start today? Our trained sleep consultants are standing by, ready to help you get started. Your consultant will create a Personalized Sleep Plan™ just for you and your family, and walk you through every step of implementation.

Browse our list of consultation package options here.
 

Once you make your choice and purchase, you will immediately receive an e-mail with your Helpdesk login information. You’ll be able to login and start your Family Sleep History form right away – it’s that simple!

Want more information about how personalized help works? Check out our FAQ page here, and get answers. You can also take a tour of the Helpdesk.
 

How about you – have you struggled with sleep training guilt? Do you think sleep training is selfish? Share your opinions with us!

 
bss_ebook_3stepsystem_leftFor those persistent nighttime struggles, check out The 3 Step System to Help Your Baby Sleep. Using the same unique approach and practical tools for success, this e-book helps you and your baby sleep through the night.
 
 
 
bss_ebook_5steptoddler_smalFor those persistent toddler sleep struggles, check out The 5 Step System to Help Your Toddler Sleep. Using the same unique approach and practical tools for success, this e-book helps you and your toddler sleep through the night and enjoy a better daytime schedule.

 

bss_email_featprod_memberspic-CROPPEDOr, join our Members Area packed with exclusive content and resources: e-Books, assessments, detailed case studies, expert advice, peer support, and more. It actually costs less to join than buying products separately! As a member, you’ll also enjoy a weekly chat with an expert sleep consultant. And the best part – members receive 20% off all sleep consultation services!

 
Can’t decide which product or service is right for you? Visit our Getting Started Page for help.

 
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bss_ebook_freeguide_leftWant FREE sleep help that you can put to use right away? Download a copy of our free guide, 5 Ways To Help Your Child Sleep Through The Night! The guide is available to download instantly, which means you can start using the techniques in it as early as tonight. So download now, and learn why your baby is waking at night – and what you can do about it.
 
 
Click here to learn more about how to get your free guide.

A better night’s sleep could be just a few clicks away. So don’t wait – download now, and start your journey to better sleep tonight!
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Sleep Training Boot Camp, Part Seven: Celebrate Success (No Matter How Small!)

 
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New to Sleep Training Bootcamp? Check out our overview page to find out what Sleep Training Boot Camp is all about, and to catch up on past Boot Camp articles.

 

BOOT CAMP, PART SEVEN: Celebrate Success (No Matter How Small!)

 
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Boot Campers – YOU DID IT. You made it to the end! And what does that mean? It means – it’s time to celebrate your success! Even small successes get celebrated today :-).

Sweet and awesome Vikki, your resident boot camp encourager, is back today, and she’s bringing us one last boot camp article. Let the celebration begin!

Celebrating A Successful Sleep Training Boot Camp

The Meldrums 2013_4-29My fellow sleep warriors, YOU DID IT. You made it through Sleep Training Boot Camp! Go you! Whether your baby is sleeping through the night like an angel, you just started your sleep training journey, or you’re somewhere in between, CONGRATULATIONS. Every sleep success, no matter how small, is cause for celebration!

Sometimes the hardest part of training is getting started. Even though we struggled with Lyla’s sleep for many months, I just kept hoping it would get better. I had gotten used to our nightly battles and just thought this is what life was like with a struggled sleeper. I wanted a more peaceful situation for Lyla. I wanted to feel rested so I could be a more patient mom. I wanted a happier, less tired household, but I didn’t know if or how any of it was possible. Deciding to try sleep training made it happen. So if you’re just starting out, look for small victories. Did you shave off even a few minutes from bedtime? SUCCESS! Has baby been more open to a change in routine that will lead to better sleep? TRIUMPH! Did baby nap for even five minutes longer than the day before? YOU DID THAT!

It can be so hard to stay consistent during sleep training, but hopefully Sleep Training Boot Camp helped keep you on the road to sleep street! There were so many times while training Lyla I wanted to just give up. Some nights it seemed like it didn’t matter what I did, the kid was not going to sleep. But I found inspiration in the fact that not knowing how to sleep is temporary and teaching her the tools to hang out in happy snoozeland would last her a lifetime. Did you push through when you wanted to give up? GO YOU!

The Meldrums 2013_4-13Did you attack naps during Sleep Training Boot Camp? HECK YES! Naps can be a constant source of stress, especially if baby refuses them. Remember, your baby or toddler needs that sleep, and you need that time in the day to recharge your batteries. Working towards better naps skills with your child is a win, even if it’s just adding a few minutes to sleepy time. There is happy on the other side of that successful nap – AND YOU MADE IT HAPPEN!

If sleep setbacks, like teething or sleep regressions, got the best of you, no worries! The tools are still here for you. Whether your baby is a good sleeper that just needs some fine-tuning, or is a chronically awake human like my little Lyla bean, there will be setbacks. But remember: SETBACKS DON’T MEAN FAILURE. Even after you’ve found the sleep training approach that works for you and baby, stuff comes up. YOU CAN AND WILL GET AND KEEP YOUR BABY SLEEPING PEACEFULLY. You can do it!

My fellow sleep conquerors, we came into this Boot Camp searching for a solution. Needing a break. Wanting desperately for our babies to find peaceful, happy slumber. Whether you just took the first step or have worked through a Personalized Sleep Plan™ and are watching baby drool happily in dreamland right now, YOU DID IT! You made progress in helping baby learn to sleep! Remember: no matter where you are in the sleep training journey, keep going. Your baby or toddler will get there, and you’ll be right beside him or her every step of the way.

Congratulations on a successful Sleep Training Boot Camp!!!

Not Quite Where You Want To Be, Sleep-Wise? We Can Help!

I feel like we can’t emphasize this enough: ANY success is worth celebrating, when it comes to sleep training. But even if you’ve had small successes, you may still not be quite where you want to be, sleep-wise. That’s okay – there is plenty of time to keep working on sleep. And don’t forget that we’re here to help you! For TODAY ONLY, you can grab any of our sleep consultation packages, or any of our e-Book titles, at a 15% discount! These boot camp essentials are the tools you need to help get you where you want to be, and to end your journey to better sleep.

Grab a consultation package or e-Book at 15% off – SALE ENDS TUESDAY!

So remember, boot campers – as we say goodbye to Sleep Training Boot Camp, celebrate your successes, even if they’re small. And if you aren’t quite where you want to be, don’t worry! We can help!

What are your sleep training successes? Share them – we want to celebrate with you! Have questions about sleep challenges that remain? Ask, and we’ll answer!

 
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<--Boot Camp Part Six: Handling Sleep Setbacks

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Sleep Training Boot Camp, Part Six: Handling Sleep Setbacks

 
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New to Sleep Training Bootcamp? Check out our overview page to find out what Sleep Training Boot Camp is all about, and to catch up on past Boot Camp articles.

 

BOOT CAMP, PART SIX: Handling Sleep Setbacks

 
Handling Sleep Setbacks

Boot Campers, you have come SO FAR! Can you believe we’re already at part six of our seven-part series?! For those of you who have been sticking with us this month, and doing the hard work of sleep training – keep it up! You’re almost there! And don’t forget, if you’re feeling discouraged, or if you had to give up because your sleep coaching plans just weren’t working, don’t despair – we can help!

We hope that, at this point, that you are starting to see some improvements in sleep. Sure, things may not be perfect yet – in fact, you may still be a long way from perfect! But ALL progress is good progress. :-)

Today, we’re taking a look at some of the most common sleep setbacks that parents face. Don’t forget that, even when sleep coaching is done, and when your baby or toddler’s sleep is exactly where you want it to be, there will still be setbacks you have to contend with. Specifically, the most common sleep setbacks we see parents struggling with include…

These are all things that can disrupt sleep in a big way – and the disruption can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. So, how can you cope with these setbacks?

Vikki is back to share some tips with us, and to tell us a little bit about the sleep setbacks she’s faced, and how she’s coped. Let’s hear more!

Handling Sleep Setbacks: Vikki’s Sleep Training Story

The Meldrums 2013_4-3My little Lyla Kathleen is not a good sleeper. While today she is a dramatically better snooze artist than she was before I started working with The Baby Sleep Site®, there are still struggles. I think there always will be. I have come to terms with the fact that she’s just never going to be a kid that chooses to go to sleep when she’s tired. Throw in a growth spurt, getting sick, or some teething, and the baby food really hits the fan!

After about eight weeks of following my Personalized Sleep Plan™ and working with Jen, our sleep consultant, little Lyla Kat was falling asleep on her own for naps and at bedtime, and was sleeping through the night about five days a week. This was a dramatic improvement from the previous ten months of nightly tear-streaked faces (hers and mine) and intense whisper fights with my husband about what to do with our exhausted child. I was overjoyed. Jubilant. Euphoric. My baby had peace. I got sleep. Life had reached a new normal that included gobs of glorious slumber. It was amazing. Until it wasn’t.

After weeks of going to sleep so well and sleeping through the night most of the time, at 2 a.m. one morning, I heard a little cry. Then I heard a big scream. I went through the checklist: diaper was fine; temperature in the room was fine; no apparent injuries or indications of being sick or having teeth pain. We had recently weaned from nursing, and I thought maybe she was experiencing some separation anxiety. Maybe she just needed momma. It was kind of sweet. It took an hour to get her back to sleep. I decided it was a hiccup and laid down with a smile, happy I got a little extra time with my girl.

I was not smiling the next night when 2 a.m. rolled around and it happened again. And again the next two nights. Was this separation anxiety or “I just don’t want to sleep”-iety? Was there a lurking tooth? I had no idea, and Lyla wasn’t talking.

I had this horrifying fear that her newfound ability to sleep was only temporary. Or worse, that my child was untrainable and she would be awake the rest of her life. Please note I was very tired. While I was being slightly dramatic, the feeling of failure was very real. She had been doing so well. We’d worked so hard and come so far. Where did we go wrong? I had a pit in my stomach, and I kept thinking, now that sleep training is a failure, where do we go from here?

Sleep Setbacks Do Not Equal Sleep Failure

The Meldrums 2013_4-29After my initial freak about those middle of the night wake-ups, I took three deep breaths, and realized that Lyla’s waking up didn’t mean all our work was lost. It meant something was hindering her from utilizing the tools we taught her, and my job was to get her back on track.

Here’s what I’ve learned since then: when Lyla has “sleep weirdness” as a result of teeth, growth, general fickleness, etc., her disrupted sleep usually lasts about a week. It took a few episodes for my husband and I to realize this pattern. Once we did, though, it helped us stick to our sleep rules, because we knew it was temporary. And after she worked through whatever was causing the disruption, if we stuck to the training, her improved sleep habits returned.

I realized through this process that setbacks are temporary, but sleep training is for life. I didn’t need to make any huge changes or come up with a new strategy. I just had to comfort my baby and reinforce our training. I went back to the plan and the sleep rules, and Lyla, thankfully, went back to sleep. The “fix” for these setbacks was to stay consistent. Remind baby and yourself of the sleep rules. If they aren’t working, like we talked about with naps in the last post, find what works. Update the rules to reflect what your baby needs long-term, but don’t make hasty changes that only solve for the short-term.

Whether your baby is a good sleeper that just needs some fine-tuning, or is a chronically awake little person, like my little bean, there will be setbacks. But remember: SETBACKS DON’T MEAN FAILURE. Even after you’ve found the sleep training approach that works for you and baby, stuff comes up. For us, since training, there have been litanies of slumber-altering situations, including never-ending teething (her pediatrician calls her “Jaws”), the end of the binky era (RIP Pinky the Binky) and, of course, when I stopped nursing.

Sometimes you know or can guess what causes the disruption. Or, especially when they’re too young to talk, it’s a total mystery. But work the steps. Stick to your rules. Keep your sleep routine as normal as possible. If there is a temporary cause to the disruption, no need for a wholesale change in approach. With sleep training, it’s not about big huge flailing moves to get the desired result. It’s about small, specific choices to help direct baby back to the path to sleep.

So, my fellow sleep-seeking parents, please know that even the best sleeper (born or taught) will have times when they struggle to siesta. But a setback does not mean sleep training failure. It means helping baby use the sleep tools even when his/her baby mouth hurts or their internal sleep clock is a little off. Get back to our routine when you can, and baby will, too!

Help For Handling Sleep Setbacks

Isn’t Vikki full of good advice? It’s key to keep her main point in mind when sleep training: sleep setbacks don’t mean sleep training failure! It’s best to stick to your plan, to try and continue fostering good sleep habits, and to just get through the rough patch as best you can.

Of course, that’s sometimes easier said than done, right? Some “rough patches” can be particularly rough! If you find that you need help navigating sleep setbacks (or if you just need help with sleep coaching, period!), I hope you’ll consider a sleep consultation with one of our expert sleep consultants.

Browse our list of sleep consultation packages here.

Once you purchase a package, you will immediately receive access to our Sleep Helpdesk, where you can upload your family sleep history form, connect with your consultant, and get started on your journey to better sleep!

What’s your plan for handling setbacks, boot campers? To those of you who’ve dealt with setbacks before – any advice to offer? Share with us – we want to hear from you!

 
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Boot Camp Part Seven: Celebrate Success, No Matter How Small! –>

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Sleep Training Boot Camp, Part Four: Staying Consistent During Sleep Training

 
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New to Sleep Training Bootcamp? Check out our overview page to find out what Sleep Training Boot Camp is all about, and to catch up on past Boot Camp articles.

 

BOOT CAMP, PART FOUR: Staying Consistent During Sleep Training

 
Staying Consistent With Sleep Training

Welcome back, boot campers! Well, here we are, halfway through sleep training boot camp. How are you doing? Are you sticking with it? I know that, at this point, after a week of sleep training and using your sleep training plan, you may be starting to feel worn out. Exhausted. Maybe discouraged. In fact, some of you may feel like giving up completely (or at least making massive changes to your sleep plan!)

Vikki and I knew that many of you would be feeling this way right around now, and as we discussed it, Vikki mentioned that she remembered feeling this way herself, when she was working on sleep training her daughter Lyla. And given that Vikki knows exactly how it feels to be discouraged in sleep training, and to want to give up, I thought it would be best if she talked to you today about staying consistent. Vikki also let me know that she had a little secret – the key to consistency, for her, was finding her inspiration.

What is ‘find your inspiration’ all about? Read on and find out how finding your inspiration can help you stay focused and committed.

Take it away, Vikki!

Staying Consistent With Sleep Training – Vikki’s Sleep Coaching Story

The Meldrums 2013_4-9It’s 9:30p. I have been trying to get my ten-month old, Lyla, to sleep for more than two hours. These hours, added to the time it took to get her down for her two naps today, means I have been in her room working on sleep for more total hours than I had slept the night before. Boo. Hiss.

I consulted my Personalized Sleep Plan™ before starting bedtime to give me some support. I knew what to do. But here I was again – night 20 million of Lyla not sleeping. I was seconds from offering her the breast just to get her go to sleep.

I was frustrated. I was impatient. I was exhausted.

I was on day four of the Personalized Sleep Plan™. The details were all there. What was not there, yet, was my baby’s understanding of what I was asking her to do. What I was always asking her to do. SLEEP!

My husband always says to take three deep breaths when I feel overwhelmed. Somewhere between breaths two and three, I had an epiphany. I have to give Lyla better than this version of me. I was not being the gentle, loving mom I know I am. Lack of sleep and the inability to get my child to sleep had started to change the way I was responding to this beautiful little nugget. I am human. I was at my breaking point.

One of the things my consultant, Jen, helped me realize is that my baby doesn’t know how to sleep on her own. Others may. Mine, not so much. Much like working with her on walking or using a spoon, I had to teach Lyla about sleep. I had to help her learn to sleep on her own.

My Lyla is what The Baby Sleep Site® calls “persistent”. That’s the polite word for extremely strong willed. Although, I think every baby that can’t or doesn’t want to sleep seems to have the will of Superman.

So, I finished my breaths. I worked through the steps of the Plan. I got Lyla to sleep. It took three hours that night. But it was a few minutes less than the night before and I gobbled that small victory up like a hunk of cake. But it wasn’t enough to make me feel like there was progress. I collapsed into a messy heap of tears and asked God, the dog, the lamp – anything that would listen – that she find peace so that she might start to see sleep as something to look forward to and not something that made her scream and scream. And scream.

Defining Your Goals, and Finding Your Inspiration

The next morning, I walked into Lyla’s room to check on her and just watched her sleep for a minute. It was beautiful. That vision was my goal. I was going to help my baby always find this snuggle of serenity.

As bedtime rolled around on day five of my Personalized Sleep Plan™, I felt like a cliff diver. I was full of adrenalin. Excited. Nervous. Ready. I was going to work the steps and get my baby to sleep. As she reared up for a big cry when I put her into bed, I stood at the side of her crib and realized something. This crib would eventually convert into her toddler bed, then to her full-sized bed. This crib side I’ve stood at for hours wooing her to sleep was the same place I would stand years from now begging my child, my pre-teen, my teenager to get up. And all at once, I knew that this was JUST FOR RIGHT NOW. These fits about sleep, these sleepless nights, the tears she and I both cried from exhaustion, was so just right now. This, too, shall pass.

I was committed to figuring out how to give her better tools to sleep and I had help in the consultants. We could do this. WE WOULD DO THIS.

And we did. It took a few nights, but Lyla started doing better. She still objected vocally and loudly to having to go to bed, but she found peace much more quickly. As I followed the plan’s goals for each night, Lyla found more and more peace. I watched her learn. It was amazing.

Jen advised that we stick to our plan for at least a week (if not two) before making any changes, because it usually takes at least that long to start seeing the effects of recommended changes. I am so glad we did.

The Meldrums 2013_4-27 So, my fellow mommas fighting the good sleep fight, YOU CAN DO THIS. Find your inspiration. Find the thing that will help you get through, because as you look for a solution that helps baby learn to sleep, you’ll need it. And it’s there! For me, realizing that this sleep saga is temporary, and that my baby would learn if I kept teaching her gave me the strength to go on.

Plus, I had support. We stuck with the Personalized Sleep Plan™. Based on it, and with help from Jen, we created “Lyla’s Sleep Rules”, which we follow every night. They helped us be consistent. Lyla got the same actions and reactions from both my husband and I. The rules evolved as Lyla continued to challenge us with her sleepless ways, but having them in place help her know what to expect, and for my husband and I, it kept us on track with how to deal with her.

Remember: You can do this. Find your inspiration to keep going. If nothing else, let it be that the payoff to sticking with sleep training is worth it – your baby or toddler will know how to sleep, making him/her more happy and healthy. And you will finally get some sleep, too!

You Don’t Have To Do This Alone…We Can Help!

Personalized ConsultationVikki had Jen acting has her boot camp coach – Jen created a Personalized Sleep Plan™ that was tailored to the Meldrum family’s needs and schedule, and was oriented around Lyla’s unique personality and temperament. Having Jen in her corner was key to Vikki’s sleep training success – yes, she and her husband put in a ton of hard work, but having Jen there to help coach them along was vital!

You can have your own Baby Sleep Site consultant in your corner, acting as your Boot Camp Coach, too. Simply purchase one of our consultation packages to get started. (And remember, they’re currently on sale!) Then, connect with one of our expert consultants, and get started! Your consultant will create your Personalized Sleep Plan™, and – most importantly – she’ll support you every step of the way. Vikki had Jen to coach her through this process; having your own sleep consultant is just what YOU need to conquer sleep training boot camp!

You can do it, boot campers – don’t give up! Keep going! And remember, you’re not alone. Have questions, or just need some encouragement? Let us know in the comments section, and we’ll answer! Have tips to share? We want to hear ‘em!

 
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Boot Camp Part Five: What You Need To Know About Nap Training –>

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Sleep Training Boot Camp, Part Three: Creating And Implementing Your Sleep Training Plan

 
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New to Sleep Training Bootcamp? Check out our overview page to find out what Sleep Training Boot Camp is all about, and to catch up on past Boot Camp articles.

 

BOOT CAMP, PART THREE: Creating and Implementing Your Sleep Training Plan

 
How To Create A Sleep Training Plan

Welcome back to sleep training boot camp, readers! Can you believe were already at Part 3 of our month-long boot camp?

Now that you have done all the prep work necessary for sleep training (by doing the 5 things you need to do before sleep coaching, and by making any necessary feeding and scheduling changes – and possibly filling out the Family History Form), it’s time to actually create your sleep training plan, and then get started with sleep coaching!

Today, we’ll look at these two components separately – how to create your sleep training plan, and then how to start implementing it.

Creating Your Sleep Training Plan

There’s no one way to create a sleep training plan – your approach to sleep coaching can be as unique as you are! But after spending 5+ years refining our own Personalized Sleep Plan, which we create for all our clients, we know a thing or two about what makes a sleep coaching plan successful.

When you go about creating your own sleep coaching plan, use these tips to ensure that your plan sets up you and your baby or toddler for success:

  • Implement ‘mini-steps’ if you want to minimize crying. Mini-steps help you break down sleep coaching into very small, very manageable steps. So instead of making a BIG leap, like, say, from rocking all the way to sleep to putting baby down wide awaken the crib, break that down into smaller mini-steps.
  • Don’t work on naps and nights at the same time. A small percentage of our families find it’s actually better for them to work on naps and nights at the same time, but for the majority, it’s just too overwhelming. Instead, break them into separate components.
  • Create the plan with your baby/toddler AND WITH YOURSELF in mind. Obviously, your child should be the focus of your sleep coaching plan. And it’s key to account for your little one’s temperament. But remember, the plan that works is the plan that YOU can commit to and feel good about. So keep that in mind as you make your plan – choose a method that you feel good about, keep the amount of work you have to do reasonable, and watch the timelines to be sure they’re reasonable, too.
  • Speaking of timelines…plan for a healthy pace to your sleep coaching. Don’t plan to move too fast (you can’t overcome major sleep associations in 3 or 4 days!), but you don’t want to inch along a snail’s pace, either – you shouldn’t be sleep training for months! For most families, 2-4 weeks is adequate time to make big improvements in sleep.
  • Include a basic day-by-day portion of your plan. We include this in most of our Personalized Sleep Plans™, and our clients tell us it’s so helpful. Basically, your day-by-day tells you what specific actions you should take each day (and each night).Creating a day-by-day schedule means you are creating concrete, actionable steps for your sleep coaching, and that can really help you stay consistent even when you’re tired and frustrated.

Implementing Your Sleep Training Plan

When it comes to actually implementing your plan, keep the following things in mind:

  • There is never a perfect time to start sleep training, but as best you can, clear your schedule for a few days after you start coaching. And, if you’re married or have a close support network around, considering soliciting some help for those first few days.
  • Working on night waking can be exhausting, so try to carve out time for yourself to take a nap, to sleep in mornings – anything you can do to catch up on your sleep. And remember that your baby or toddler may need the same – when you’re working on night wakings, do what you can to be sure your little one takes adequate naps.

Let Us Make Your Plan For You!

Personalized ConsultationYou can make your own sleep plan – we offer resources specifically designed to help you do that (many of our e-book packages include a ‘How To Make Your Own Sleep Plan’ workbook!) But the fact is that parents who hire a Baby Sleep Site consultant to create a Personalized Sleep Plan™ for them have higher rates of success than those who attempt to go it alone. Why? Because our consultants bring years of experience and insight to your consultation – they have worked with literally thousands of families! All that experience combines to create a Personalized Sleep Plan™ that is guaranteed to equal sleep training success.

How can you get your own Personalized Sleep Plan™? Simple – first, you’ll need to purchase one of our consultation packages (Remember, they’re currently on sale!) Next, you will receive login credentials to our Sleep Helpdesk – from there you will fill out your Family History Form, upload it to the Helpdesk, connect with your consultant, and get started! Once your consultant has reviewed your history, she will create your plan, and then send it over with implementation instructions. It’s that easy! Once you’ve tried out the plan at home, you can email your consultant any time to ask follow-up questions, or to request changes to your plan.

Still not sure if a Personalized Sleep Plan would be right for you? Here’s what Vikki had to say about her plan:

BSS Headshot 1“When I first got the plan I felt two things. First, I felt a sense of relief. I had help, and help that made sense. I had spoken to doctors, nurses, other moms, everyone I could think of. Everyone said, “Oh, she’ll sleep when she’s tired”. But she didn’t. I have tears now just thinking about how bad I felt and how tired she was. Then, I got the plan. I had a blueprint to help us get to a better place.

I also felt a lot of ‘a-ha’ moments as I read through my plan. There were answers to the questions of ‘why’ I had so often. I had heard before that you can give baby a lovely, but I didn’t know why. The plan explained that. I had read about other techniques that Jen (my consultant) referenced in the plan, but she gave me the why. I knew not only what we were going to do but why we were going to do it. That was HUGE for me. I am a very why-oriented person.”

Makes a lot of sense, right? What Vikki (and the rest of us here at The Baby Sleep Site®) want you to know is this: for many of you reading this, a Personalized Sleep Plan™ is all you need to conquer sleep training boot camp, and to solve your little one’s sleep problems once and for all. Even if you don’t feel like you need a consultant tobss_ebook_3stepsystem_left-1 help you, you probably will want all the sleep coaching info you can get your hands on to help you through this process. Well, our e-Books (which are currently 15% off!) provide just that. The 3-Step System To Help Your Baby Sleep is a great choice – it includes all the basics you need to sleep train successfully, and the Silver package includes downloadable instructions about how to make your own sleep training plan!

No matter how you decide to approach Boot Camp Part #3, remember that this step is critical – you need to create a solid plan and then implement it well. You have about a week before we get into Part #4, so use this time to make and then use your plan. Next week, we’ll talk about what to do if things don’t go exactly according to plan. ;) But between now and then, remember – we are here to help!

This is a big step, so if you have questions, ask away, and we’ll offer some help! For those of you who have sleep trained before – share your tips!

 
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Boot Camp Part Four: Staying Consistent With Sleep Training –>

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Sleep Training Boot Camp, Part One: 5 Things To Do Before You Sleep Train

 
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It’s time to buckle down, put in the hard work, and conquer sleep challenges once and for all.

It’s time for sleep training boot camp!

That’s right, parents – June is Sleep Training Boot Camp here at The Baby Sleep Site®. All month long, we will be coaching you along on Facebook and Twitter, sharing sleep tips, posting inspirational messages, and encouraging you to share your progress (because who knows – parents who share their progress might just be rewarded!! ;)). And here on the blog, we will be walking you through the sleep coaching process, step by step, and offering up the information you need to be successful with sleep coaching.

Vikki MeldrumThroughout this series, we’ll be hearing from Vikki Meldrum. Vikki is a mom who, just like you, came to The Baby Sleep Site® for help with her sweet little daughter Lyla’s sleep challenges. With the help of her sleep consultant, Jen, Vikki was able to solve her daughter’s sleep problems and is now enjoying peaceful nights! Vikki will be chiming in to offer you insights and encouragement as you go through boot camp. After all, she knows what sleep training is like – she’s been there! So think of Vikki as your boot camp buddy – she’s here to cheer you on, and to help you be as successful as possible!

Finally, be sure to visit us all month long on Facebook and Twitter, as we share motivational quotes and helpful hints. And we’ll want to hear from you, too – keep us posted on your progress at #sleepbootcamp, and be automatically entered to win a $20 Amazon gift card! We’ll be handing out these gift cards at random to moms who post updates and ask questions – think of them as motivation to stick with it and keep going! ;)

So what are you waiting for? Now is the time to make meaningful changes to your baby or toddler’s sleep – let’s get started!
 
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BOOT CAMP, PART ONE: 5 Things To Do BEFORE You Sleep Train

As eager as some of you may be to get started with sleep training, remember: it’s important to plan first. You won’t make it far without a plan! So, as a first step in planning, we are looking at Instead, we’re going to focus on 5 things parents should do BEFORE they start sleep training. We believe strongly that having a plan can take you far on the road to success; with that in mind, let’s talk over 5 steps to take before you start sleep training.

  1. Catch up on sleep (this means everyone!)

    You’ve heard the expression “things will get worse before they get better”, right? Well, that applies to sleep training in a big, big way. When you start sleep training, expect for everyone to lose some sleep before things start to improve. Remember, your child is learning a new skill here — sleep probably won’t come easily right from the beginning! For this reason, it’s critical that mom, dad, and baby be well-rested before starting this process.

  2. Start a sleep log.

    You may think you know your baby or toddler’s sleep habits, but try keeping a log, and it might surprise you to see patterns that you didn’t know existed. Logging sleep is also a great way to pinpoint exactly what your child’s “real” schedule is (as opposed to the schedule you’re trying to implement!). We recommend you keep logging sleep all the way through the sleep coaching process, too – it’ll help you keep an accurate record, and it’ll highlight where your little one has made progress. You can read more about how to log sleep in this article about how to keep a baby or toddler sleep log.

  3. Develop bedtime and naptime routines.

    Consistency is one of the most important parts of any sleep training plan — the faster your baby learns that the same things will keep happening at the same times, the faster he’ll learn how to break his sleep associations and start sleeping through the night. And routines go a long way towards building consistency.

    Start developing small, simple patterns before naps and bed — this could include reading a few books, rocking and singing a song, having a bath, etc. Start on these bedtime routines and naptime routines before you begin sleep training; that way, your baby will already be familiar with them before you actually start the sleep training process.

  4. Make sure your child has a clean bill of health

    If you know your baby is perfectly healthy, no reason to make a trip to the doc. But if your little one is under the weather, or especially if you suspect that your chid’s sleeplessness may be the result of a medical problem, consider making a quick trip the doc, just to be on the safe side.

  5. Clear your calendar.

    When you start sleep training, you’ll want things to be as normal as possible around your house for at least a few weeks. Consistency is a huge part of sleep training, which is why we don’t recommend that people start sleep training right before a move, before a vacation, before a major surgery, etc. What’s more, if you’re an “on the go” parent, you may need to cancel some of your plans. You’ll probably need to spend your days and nights at home for a few weeks — no all-day errands, no late-night excursions. You want baby to have plenty of time to practice sleeping in crib or bassinette, and plenty of opportunities to adjust to the new schedule and routine.

    To put your full sleep training plan into effect, you’ll need at least 3-4 weeks of normalcy. But don’t worry – if you only have 1 or 2 normal weeks available right now, you can start ‘Phase 1′ of coaching, which might mean you work on a few of your smaller sleep training goals.

All this planning ahead may seem like a lot of work, but remember – good prep work is key to success. Here’s what Vikki had to tell me about the prep work she did before sleep coaching Lyla:

“I actually did a lot of prep before we started Lyla’s sleeping training. I read my plan a few times and made notes on how I could apply it to our efforts with Lyla. I also tried to pick good timing to start when we didn’t have a lot of plans or I could easily opt out of an event in case we were tired or needed to focus on training (so we didn’t skip a nap or change the time we put her down). I also wanted to be mentally prepared. I knew we were about to go on a journey and I wanted to make sure I was ready to start and keep going every day.”

Wise words from a wise mom! So, Boot Camp Part #1 – make sure you’ve covered the 5 bases listed above, and you’ll be ready to tackle the next step (which we’ll share on Friday – stay tuned!)

And remember – as we embark on this month of boot camp, you don’t have to do this alone. You don’t. If you prefer to sleep train yourself, we have a ton of resources packed full of info that will help you along the way (including our e-books, which are currently on sale!) But if you think you might need help, we can provide that, too – our sleep consultants are the boot camp instructors you need to get the results you deserve. Why not consider purchasing a sleep consultation package (also on sale!) and do boot camp alongside a trained, expert sleep consultant?

What are you going to do before you start sleep training boot camp? Share your plans with us! Have sleep training questions? Ask, and we’ll answer!

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Boot Camp, Part Two: Making Feeding & Schedule Changes (And An Optional Bonus Step!) –>

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10 Things Nicole Wants You To Know About Sleep Training

 
10 Things To Know About Sleep Training

Recently, I took some time to talk with Nicole about all the things she’s learned during her years as a sleep consultant, and during the course of the conversation, I asked her, “What do you wish all of our readers knew about sleep coaching?” The result? Today’s article – a list of 10 things Nicole wants you to know about sleep coaching. Read on, and hear from Nicole herself!

10 Things Nicole Wants You To Know About Sleep Training

  1. Baby and toddler sleep problems do not discriminate.
  2. Nicole: I have worked with literally thousands of families from all over the world, and I can safely say that baby sleep problems do not discriminate. Baby and toddler sleep problems cross cultural, racial, geographical, and socioeconomic borders. While this might sound a bit depressing to some of our exhausted readers, I find it comforting! It allows me to reassure my clients that they are not alone in their struggles with sleep, and that there are many, MANY parents around the world facing exactly what they’re facing.

  3. Plenty (maybe the majority) of babies do not naturally “outgrow” their sleep challenges
  4. Nicole: A common misconception that I think exists among parents is that ALL babies will outgrow their bad sleep habits and eventually “figure out” sleep on their own, without any help. Now, there is some truth to this idea – eventually, all children do figure out how to handle night wakings without a parent’s help (I don’t know too many 18 year olds who are still trying to crawl into their parents’ bed during night wakings, LOL!!). But “eventually” may be YEARS down the road. I know families whose elementary-aged children still wake a lot at night, and need a parent to come and comfort them back to sleep, or who need to crawl into parents’ bed most nights each week, in order to fall back to sleep.

    What I always remind my clients of is the fact that while it’s true that some babies and toddlers do “figure out” sleep on their own, in a reasonable amount of time, without sleep training, that is in no way the norm for all kids. In my opinion, it’s unreasonable to expect all babies and toddlers to figure out sleep on their own. That kind of blanket assumption doesn’t account for all the unique factors that are involved in a child’s sleeping habits – factors like temperament, family living situations, parent philosophy, health challenges, etc. Once the 4 month sleep regression hits, and a baby’s sleeping patterns change permanently, PLENTY of those babies need at least a bit of help from a parent to learn a new way to sleep.

  5. In sleep training, the first step is often the hardest to take, for parents.
  6. Nicole: There’s no doubt about it – sleep coaching is work. I am always very clear about that with my clients. But generally, I’ve found that the toughest part of the whole process, for many families, is getting started. Taking that first step often feels daunting and scary for parents, and there have been times when, after receiving their Personalized Sleep Plans™, some clients put off starting for weeks, simply because they’re too nervous to begin! However, what I generally find is that once a parent has started sleep coaching, and especially once they see the first signs of initial progress, they start to gain momentum and confidence, and while the rest of the process may not be easy, they feel good about continuing to do the work, and they don’t feel nearly as anxious as they did at the start.

  7. Speaking of parents – sometimes, it’s the parents who need some “training” before their babies or toddlers can be sleep trained!
  8. Nicole: I often ask parents to think about sleep training as training for both their child AND for them. Often, it’s not just a baby or toddler’s sleep habits and sleep associations that need to be changed – it’s the parents’ habits and associations, too! Here’s what I mean by that: by the time a parent approaches us for help, she has likely been struggling with her baby’s sleep for months. Over those months, her baby has “trained” her, in a way – maybe she’s been “trained” to rock the baby to sleep, or to get up and replace the pacifier every time baby cries. Maybe she’s tried different sleep coaching methods with no success, so she’s been “trained” to know that these methods won’t work. Well, part of our sleep coaching process here at The Baby Sleep Site® is to help both the baby or toddler AND the parents to learn new habits, patterns, and routines when it comes to sleep. In fact, sometimes, I’ve found that it’s mom or dad who needs the most training – once I am able to reset the parents’ expectations and habits surrounding their child’s sleep, their baby or toddler quickly learns how to sleep through the night and to nap better! That’s not always the case, of course, but in some situations, all that stands between a baby or toddler and a good night’s sleep is mom or dad.

  9. Often, babies and toddlers are capable of more than their parents think they are.
  10. Nicole: In some ways, this fits with that last point. I’ve learned over the years that as parents, many of us (myself included) tend to assume that our children are capable of less than they actually are. This is understandable; I think it’s part of our parental desires to protect and nurture our children. But when it comes to sleep, it’s key to remember that your child is probably capable of more than you think she is. I’ve had so many parents tell me that once they “got out of the way”, so to speak, their babies and toddlers quickly figured out new sleeping habits and routines.

  11. While sleep habits become pretty entrenched by 12 months of age, it is definitely possible to sleep coach toddlers – you just have to be creative (and very, very patient!).
  12. Nicole: I’ve worked with a lot of toddlers through the years, and usually, their parents tell me that they wish they had worked on sleep coaching earlier, and not waited until their child was 2 or 3 (or even 4!) before starting. But I always remind these parents that it’s never too late to learn new sleep habits. It’s true that toddlers can be bit more stubborn about their sleep than babies generally are, but that’s okay – it just means that parents need to be consistent and persistent in their sleep coaching. It also means that, as a sleep coaching team (parents and I), have to be creative with our sleep coaching methods. The methods that I use with babies usually aren’t a great fit for toddlers; that’s why I’ve developed my own sleep coaching strategy for toddlers. I’ve found that when parents combine the right, toddler-specific sleep coaching strategy with plenty of patience and consistency, results follow.

  13. Baby and toddler sleep problems are relative.
  14. Nicole: Oh, man, is this ever true! One mom’s “problem sleeper” is another mom’s “dream sleeper”! I think that perspective, as it does in so many areas of our lives, plays a huge role in baby and toddler sleep. Cultural differences regarding sleep also come into play here – while a Western family might consider a 3-year old who still woke multiple times per night and nursed back to sleep to be a huge problem, that scenario is considered perfectly reasonable and normal in other cultures around the world. But remember, don’t let the fact that other parents’ sleep problems may be bigger than yours make you feel like yours are insignificant. They’re not! If your sleep challenges are a big deal for your family, then they’re a big deal for us, too, and we’ll work to solve them. After all, effects of sleep deprivation affect us all differently, too.

  15. Most baby and toddler sleep problems can’t be solved overnight.
  16. Nicole: Having reasonable expectations about sleep coaching is key, and it’s one reason why I ask clients to explain their expectations BEFORE we start the sleep coaching process. While some of our clients do have overnight success, those families are definitely the exception. It takes most families at least a few days to start seeing progress, and 1-2 weeks before they start seeing consistent change in their babies’ or toddlers’ sleep habits. I always advise parents to focus on incremental progress, instead of becoming too focused on the big, lofty end goals (like sleeping 12 straight hours at night, or something like that). This is one reason why we always break sleep coaching down into a series of small steps – doing that helps parents focus on small goals, which ultimately lead to the bigger goals. It also prevents parents and children from burning out quickly.

  17. Even the best sleepers will have “off” days once sleep coaching is done, but this does not mean that sleep coaching has failed.
  18. Nicole: Speaking of reasonable expectations, this is an unrealistic expectation that I encounter from time to time. Some parents are under the impression that once they sleep train successfully, their child will never wake at night again, or have a bad nap, or regress in any way. While that would certainly be nice, it’s a fantasy. ;) In reality, even the best sleepers have off days now and then, and even if you have sleep coached successfully, your baby or toddler will still get sick, get new teeth, go through growth spurts, have sleep regressions – and all of those will impact sleep. What I urge parents to remember is that, first, a child who has been through sleep coaching will likely have less disruption to sleep during those times, and second, a family who has been through sleep coaching has the tools to handle those kinds of challenges without creating new sleep associations, and to get back on routine quickly.

  19. Successful sleep coaching requires a ‘short-term pain for long-term gain’ mentality.
  20. Nicole: I think a lot of parents get this, but I still find myself explaining it from time to time. Some parents have a tough time breaking out of their current sleep routines – for instance, if they have been nursing to sleep, or co-sleeping out of necessity, it can feel tough to stop doing those things, even if parents want to. That’s because sleep associations (nursing or rocking to sleep, for instance) provide a “quick fix” for a sleepless baby or toddler. Sure, it’s not perfect, but at least it provides some sleep in the short-term. Same with unwanted co-sleeping – its’ not ideal, but at least it lets everyone get some sleep.

    But the thing to remember is that while sleep coaching can create some “short-term pain”, the long-term gains are big. Yes, correcting your baby or toddler’s sleep associations will make for some exhausting nights and days at first, but the long-term gain is a child who sleeps through the night and naps well. And just about every family I have ever worked with has found that’s a long-term gain that’s worth the work!

Ready To Tackle Sleep Training? We Can Help!

All this talk about sleep training may have some of you feeling ready to get started – and if so, remember that our team of consultants is here to help! If you are ready to work on your little one’s sleep, and to get a Personalized Sleep Plan™ that will work for your family, the first step is to browse our extensive list of package options and select the one that looks best for your situation.
 
Browse our list of consultation package options here.
 

Once you make your choice and purchase, you will immediately receive an e-mail with your Helpdesk login information. You’ll be able to login and start your Family Sleep History form right away – it’s that simple!

Want more information about how personalized help works? Check out our FAQ page here, and get answers. You can also take a tour of the Helpdesk.

Have your own sleep coaching observations to share? Chime in, and share them in the comments section! Have a question about sleep coaching? Ask away, and we’ll answer!

  • Want to tackle sleep training on your own? Why not take a look at our 3-Step System To Help Your Baby Sleep? Available in three affordable packages, this book is designed to give you practical, hands-on tools you can use to help your baby learn to fall asleep on his own, and stay asleep (and stop fighting bedtime!). For toddlers, try The 5-Step System To Better Toddler Sleep. Struggling with napping issues? Check out Mastering Naps & Schedules, with over 45 sample schedules included. Best of all, all three books are available to download instantly – you can put them to use as early as tonight!
  • Want an abundance of resources to help you in your sleep coaching? Consider becoming a Baby Sleep Site Member. Our Members Area is packed with exclusive content and resources: e-Books, assessments, detailed case studies, expert advice, peer support, and teleseminars. It actually costs less to join than buying products separately! And as a member, you have access to a once-a-week chat with one of our expert sleep consultants – ideal for those times when you need some expert advice! And the icing on the cake? Members enjoy 20% off all sleep consultation services. That savings alone can pay for the cost of membership!
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5 Easy Ways To Start Sleep Training TONIGHT. (You Can Do #1 Right Now!)

3-6 MonthsIf you have been working on your baby or toddler’s sleep for any length of time, then you know that sleep coaching tends to take time. Sure, some parents see miraculous results overnight, but that’s the exception – it’s not the norm! For most of us, sleep coaching involves days or weeks of work before we see real, meaningful results. The work is worth it, of course – the payoff of a full night’s sleep is worth anything!

But sometimes, starting can just seem so daunting. What do you do first? Should you start with a nap, or with bedtime? Lots for an exhausted, sleep-deprived parent to consider!

As always, we are here to help. We know that sleep coaching can be an intimidating process to start, so we thought we’d help make it easier. Below are 5 things you can do tonight that will help kick off the sleep coaching process for you and your baby, and start your whole family on the road to better sleep. Think of this as your ‘quick win’ – you can put each of these strategies to work tonight – no waiting necessary!

5 Easy Ways To Start Sleep Training TONIGHT

  1. Identify your baby’s sleep associations. This is easy – you an do this right now, in just a few minutes! Think about how your baby or toddler typically falls asleep. Does she fall asleep while nursing, or drinking her bottle? Does she fall asleep while you rock her? Does she fall asleep on you, or in your arms? All of these are sleep associations – they are things your baby needs in order to fall asleep. The process of sleep training is simply weaning your baby away from her sleep associations, so that she can learn to fall asleep on her own, without outside help. Once you have identified your baby or toddler’s sleep associations, you have identified the problems that need fixing. That’s step one!
  2. Start a bedtime routine. If you haven’t already, start a bedtime routine tonight with your baby or toddler. It doesn’t have to be long (it shouldn’t be, actually – 15 minutes is sufficient!), and it doesn’t have to be complicated (again, it shouldn’t be – you want straightforward and simple). Read a few books, sing a lullaby, give kisses and cuddles, and then its lights out. Pledge to do this routine every night; that’s what puts the “routine” in bedtime routine. Once you have instituted a strong routine, it will help your baby or toddler better understand what’s expected of him at bedtime.
  3. Shorten your baby or toddler’s time spent with a particular sleep association. Now that you know how your baby or toddler falls asleep, work to shorten whatever association she has. For instance, if your baby needs to be rocked to sleep, try to cut back a little on the time you spend rocking her. If you typically rock her for 30 minutes, try rocking her for 20 and then holding her without any movement for 10. If you do this gradually, you will eventually (and gently!) wean your baby away from the nursing. Same with feeding your baby or toddler to sleep, or holding her until she falls asleep – slightly reduce the time you spend doing these things. This is the first step towards changing your baby or toddler’s sleep associations.
  4. Don’t race in when your baby or toddler starts crying after a night waking. I’m not telling you to let your baby cry-it-out. You may choose that method if you feel it’s best for you situation, but know that I’m not instructing you to do that, necessarily! Rather, I’m encouraging you to wait a few moments between the time you hear your baby or toddler cry and the time you pick him up. Remember, not every cry is truly a cry for help – some cries are simply noises that our babies or toddlers make as they briefly wake between sleep cycles. In those cases, if you were to wait a few minutes, you might find that your baby or toddler settles himself, without your help. So when you hear a cry tonight – just give it a minute. See if your baby or toddler can re-settle without you.
  5. Track the times of all night wakings. You can’t really know what you’re working towards, in terms of your baby nighttime sleep or daytime schedule, until you know what the current situation looks like. So tonight, and over the next few days, track the timing of everything. Make note of all night wakings. Write down bedtimes and wake times. Note all naps, including when they start and finish. Same with feedings. What you are doing here is starting your sleep log; that will become important as you continue to work on sleep training. A sleep log will show you any patterns or trends that may be happening in your baby or toddler’s sleep, and it will also help show you where you are making progress and where you need to continue to focus your efforts.

You Don’t Have To Sleep Train Alone

Remember that, while you certainly can sleep train your baby or toddler on your own, you don’t have to. That’s what we are here for! Sleep training can be tough, and hundreds of parents turn to us for sleep coaching help every month. We can help you, too! Take a look at our consultation packages, and see which one looks like a good fit for you.

Click here to see all our personalized consultation packages.

Once you purchase, you will immediately receive access to the Helpdesk, and you can set up your account, fill out your Family Sleep History form, submit it to a consultant, and get started on the journey to better sleep!

Want more information about how personalized help works? Check out our FAQ page here, and get answers. You can also take a tour of the Helpdesk.

Ready to start sleep coaching? What are your plans? Have you sleep trained before? How did you begin? Share your tips!

  • Feel like you can handle sleep coaching on your own? Why not take a look at our The 3-Step System To Help Your Baby Sleep? Available in three affordable packages, this book is designed to give you practical, hands-on tools you can use to help your baby learn to fall asleep on his own, and stay asleep (and stop fighting bedtime!). For toddlers, try The 5-Step System To Better Toddler Sleep. Best of all, both books is available to download instantly – you can put it to use as early as tonight!
  • Want an abundance of resources to help you in your sleep coaching? Consider becoming a Baby Sleep Site Member. Our Members Area is packed with exclusive content and resources: e-Books, assessments, detailed case studies, expert advice, peer support, and teleseminars. It actually costs less to join than buying products separately! And as a member, you have access to a once-a-week chat with one of our expert sleep consultants – ideal for those times when you need some expert advice! And the icing on the cake? Members enjoy 20% off all sleep consultation services. That savings alone can pay for the cost of membership!
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The Pacifier Trick Every Parent Should Know

Pacifier Tip Every Parent Should Know

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, for many of us, pacifiers are a necessity. It’s estimated that anywhere from 75% – 85% of babies and toddlers have used a pacifier for soothing at some point. And it’s understandable – pacifiers can be a great way to provide instant soothing, and to calm fussy, inconsolable babies or toddlers. (That’s the love ‘em part!)

But the problem is that pacifier use can quickly become habitual – before you know it, offering a pacifier occasionally for comfort turns into offering a pacifier constantly, so that you can get your baby or toddler to sleep. And that can turn into being woken multiple times each night by a little one who is screaming for you to come and replace the pacifier that fell out of her mouth. (That’s the hate ‘em part!)

We’ve written before about pacifiers and sleep: check out this article on pacifier basics, and this one on how and when to wean from the pacifier. But today, we’re taking a look at something new. Today, we’re talking about a super clever pacifier trick that every parent with a pacifier-loving little one at home should know.

What’s the trick? How does it work? Read on, readers – this one’s too good to miss!

‘The Dream Paci’ Tip, Care of The Hint Mama

Today’s pacifier tip actually comes from a friend of The Baby Sleep Site – it’s from Jennifer Saranow Schultz, also known as Hint Mama. Jennifer’s blog is known for its practical tips, designed to make parenting cheaper, easier, and (as she puts it) a bit more humorous!

All of Jennifer’s tips are great, but we were particularly excited about her ‘Dream Paci’ tip. We knew this was one that our own readers would appreciate. So, with Jennifer’s permission, we’re bringing The Dream Paci Tip to you today!

‘The Dream Paci’ Tip – How It Works

The Dream Paci Tip is basically a variation on the idea of a Dream Feed. Many of you are no doubt familiar with that idea – basically, you sneak into your baby’s room at night, after he’s fallen asleep, and wake him slightly. You wake him just enough to eat, but not so much that he’s entirely awake. The idea is that by ‘topping off’ with breastmilk or formula, you can actually increase the time between night feeds, and get a bit more sleep yourself.

The Dream Paci is similar – only it involves pacifiers, obviously ;). Here’s Hint Mama’s explanation (the post actually came from her husband — apparently, he handles their toddler’s night wakings. What a guy!) :)

…after several nights of waking up multiple times throughout the night to replace a missing pacifier, I followed a trick mentioned in many sleep training books and “sprinkled” multiple pacifiers (usually about six) in the crib when we said goodnight to our daughter. This “sprinkle,” which made it easy for our daughter to pick up a replacement pacifier in the middle of the night and go back to sleep without screaming, worked like a charm for about a month or so.

Then, our little pumpkin caught on to our trick and thought it would be a fun game to throw all the pacifiers out of the crib while she settled in for the night. Each evening, we could hear the sound of pacifiers bouncing on the ground one after the other, and she was back to waking up in the middle of the night screaming for us to come in and give her a pacifier.

And there was no question that she was doing this intentionally. One night, we watched on the video baby monitor as she pushed pacifiers through the holes in her crib onto the floor and even stood up to chuck one pacifier against the wall in her bedroom.

That’s when I came up with the “Dream Paci.” It works like this: Instead of putting all the pacifiers into our daughter’s crib when we tuck her in and she’s awake and aware that they are there, I now place two in the crib when she’s awake (and she throws these out of the crib as expected). Then, I tiptoe into her room later in the evening when she’s dreaming and fast asleep, and scatter the six pacifiers all around her crib.

If you decide to try The Dream Paci, however, just be sure that you don’t accidentally wake your baby or toddler up when you sneak into the room to do the pacifier sprinkle! That happened to Jennifer’s husband once:

So far, this trick has generally worked like a charm. The one exception: One night I woke our daughter up by accident when trying to sneak into her room. In retrospect, I probably went in before our daughter was fully asleep. So my advice to others trying to employ this trick would be to wait to do the dream paci until it’s been at least an hour from when your little one is asleep.

One final note, before we wrap up – remember that pacifier associations can be strong for lots of babies and toddlers. And while tips like this can be great solutions for some families, other families may find themselves in a position where they need to buckle down and solve the pacifier association once and for all. This is especially true for those families whose sleep is being seriously disrupted by the constant pacifier-related night wakings.

If you need to work on your baby or toddler’s pacifier associations, we’re here to help! This is a common issue, and it’s one our consultants have dealt with many times. Take a look at our consultation packages, and see which one looks like a good fit for you (hint – the Deluxe Package is the most popular!).

Click here to take a look at our consultation packages.

Once you purchase, you will immediately receive access to the Helpdesk, and you can set up your account, fill out your Family Sleep History form, submit it to a consultant, and get started on the journey to better sleep! It’s that simple!

Want more information about how personalized help works? Check out our FAQ page here, and get answers. You can also take a tour of the Helpdesk.

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Speaking of Hint Mama – she’s hosting a Baby Sleep Site giveaway on her site right now! Head over and enter for your chance to win a 3-month Baby Sleep Site membership. Your membership will give you full access to The Baby Sleep Site’s Members Area, including all e-books, case studies, tele-seminars, and member chats!
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What do you think of The Dream Paci, readers? Have you tried something similar at home? Is this a tip you think would be helpful for your situation?

  • Want to tackle your little one’s pacifier association on your own? Why not take a look at our 3-Step System To Help Your Baby Sleep? Available in three affordable packages, this book is designed to give you practical, hands-on tools you can use to help your baby learn to fall asleep on her own, and stay asleep. Or, if you have a toddler at home, try our 5-Step System to Better Toddler Sleep. Best of all, both books are available to download instantly – you can put it to use as early as tonight!
  • Want an abundance of resources to help you in your sleep coaching? Consider becoming a Baby Sleep Site Member. Our Members Area is packed with exclusive content and resources: e-Books, assessments, detailed case studies, expert advice, peer support, and teleseminars. It actually costs less to join than buying products separately! And as a member, you have access to a once-a-week chat with one of our expert sleep consultants – ideal for those times when you need some expert advice! And the icing on the cake? Members enjoy 20% off all sleep consultation services. That savings alone can pay for the cost of membership!
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